And so it goes. A restful weekend in tribute to the American worker followed by that splash of cold water known as the return to the usual routine. We put one toe in, and pull back. Gradually, we edge further in until we are back swimming where we once were before we departed for some time away.
And why do we return? Bills, my friend. Lots and lots of those silly invoices that find their way into our mail boxes and our virtual bank accounts.
It amazes me how money is truly a central focus of our lives. Not just of our culture, but anywhere. If you want to eat, you work. Well, at least, some of us follow that little golden rule.
I remember once hearing a story about the supposed real reason for Oprah’s exit from inner city work and her trek across the waters to assist in Africa. Basically, she grew tired of asking the students she encountered what they wanted in life. Apparently, she constantly received the answer of bigger iPods, more expensive shoes, and just plain money. But in fairness, that scenario is not reserved merely for just these kids. Even the rich want to be richer. It’s a very human thing.
When I think about the kind of people that built America, wrote our great constitution, and fought for our freedom, that type of “what’s in it for me” or “give me more” personality and character just doesn’t come to mind. It saddens me to think of where we as a country have landed and where we will be in the decades ahead. When the focus is only on ourselves and where we are going in life and what we can get, there is no room left to think of others.
As I have confessed or divulged, I am a huge reality TV fan. But it was the finale of one particular show that definitely caught my attention of late. Very wealthy families, on display, showed the world their lifestyles and their relationships. But it was the updates on what their children were doing that stunned me. Here were college age and high school kids, from families dripping with money, that could get jobs anywhere in the world, at any Fortune 500 company, and attend any ivy league school. Yet, the rolling credits produced the following:
Joe is attending community college
Larry, the drug addict, got a job as a waiter and is attending community college
Frank works in the parts department of some auto store
Sandy is working at a termite company
I was amazed that they had rejected the lifestyle that so many kids would give their eye teeth to have. I for one used to dream of what it would be like to yacht around the world and attend Oxford. But such was not to be. I do not judge these kids. I have not walked in their shoes. All I can say is, it is definitely an interesting social situation to ponder.
One thing is for sure, these kids are not worried about bettering themselves or their country. The focus is on today. What works for now. The party that they will attend tonight. There’s a definite lack of stress for the future.
On the flip side, I have been around kids from homeschooling families that have astronomically hight SAT scores. They aspire to be governors and senators (if not President), they memorize the Declaration of Independence, they know how to field dress a deer, mow their ailing neighbors lawn, visit the nursing homes and take gifts and fix my computer when it has a bug.
Our country is diverse to say the least. And these two cultures of polar opposites do cause for pause and think. The beauty of America is that we still have a choice. A choice to live opulently and leisurely. The choice, too, to aspire to amazing heights and better ourselves and our future.
May we learn one thing from this post-holiday lesson. Whatever we choose, there will be an end result. Our lives will bear the fruit of our labors-whatever they may be. I pray we choose wisely and well. We have it in us. And for today, we have the most sacred gift of all. Freedom to be who we want to be and to work where and how we choose.. Here’s to staying free.
Just my thoughts.